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Friday, December 13

Sky Bet Championship

Charlton Athletic v Hull City – The Valley

Charlton will be hoping to end their miserable recent run of results when Hull City visit the Valley on Friday evening.

The ‘Addicks were beaten by a late, late Matty Daly goal last time out as Huddersfield Town snaffled the points away from SE7 – a result which boss, Lee Bowyer, thought was particularly harsh on his side.

“We didn’t get anything that we deserved from the game today,” the former midfielder told www.cafc.co.uk.

“I thought that my players gave absolutely everything, they’re crawling off the pitch. It’s difficult to take again. We score a goal that gets disallowed for offside – He’s not offside.

“It’s tough because the players, apart from Saturday, have given me absolutely everything in every game. Saturday we were off it and that’s going to happen from time to time because we’re down to bare bones.

Bowyer could be without striker, Lyle Taylor, for the Tigers visit: “The advice I’m getting is to not risk him,” the Charlton chief explained. 

“I want to. I hear everyone’s frustrations this evening. But look, there’s no one more that wants Lyle to start a game, trust me.”

Saturday, December 14

Premier League

Chelsea v AFC Bournemouth – Stamford Bridge

Frank Lampard has plenty to think about ahead of the Blues clash with out of sorts AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Chelsea’s league form has been patchy of late, with both West Ham and Everton taking all three points from the West Londoners. However, a midweek victory over Lille ensured UEFA Champions League progress – perhaps restoring some confidence ahead of the Cherries visit.

Nevertheless, Lampard was concerned after that Goodison Park setback: “I knew they were going to have a go today but I am more worried about us – It was not good enough,” he bemoaned.

“We conceded three horrible goals. The last thing we want is to go down so early.”

The Chelsea chief was a little more content following his sides European tie but recognised there was still room for improvement. 

“The first half was good, the first twenty minutes of the second half was particularly good, but we need to take more of our chances,” he told www.chelseafc.com.

“We’re leaving teams slightly in the game and that’s the frustrating thing. I am a bit tired of saying that. It’s sometimes been the story of our season”

Eddie Howe’s injury-hit Bournemouth arrive in West London without a win in ten Premier League matches and have lost each of their last six.

Speaking after last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to league leaders, Liverpool, Howe explained: “I don’t like to use injuries as an excuse, but there comes a time when you have to look at the situation and the teams we are playing. We lost another two players today. It is what it is.

“The squad is stretched. It is there to cope with the injuries but the difficulty for us is, we are getting injuries but not getting players back.”

Southampton v West Ham United – St Mary’s Stadium

Manuel Pellegrini takes his out of sorts Hammers to the south coast with speculation rife that the Chilean could part company with the club should they fail to record a victory.

West Ham have won just once in ten Premier League outings, a run which has seen them slip within a point of the relegation zone and piled the pressure on their beleaguered boss.

Speaking ahead of the game, Pellegrini said: “Well, of course, all of us know we need the results. 

“We have just five points from the last nine games. We need to return to being a consistent and solid team in the way we did against Chelsea and for 60-65 minutes against Arsenal. 

“The points that we have are not enough for this team.”

Pellegrini added: “We know a couple of wins can raise our team up the table. We are always talking in the way we must try to do it and not to change all that we are doing.”

Host’s Southampton are in the dropzone but have shown a notable improvement since suffering a 9-0 defeat against high-flying Leicester City at St Mary’s. Indeed, the Saints have won their last two home games and would leapfrog the east Londoners with a win on Saturday evening.

Sky Bet Championship

Barnsley v Queens Park Rangers – Oakwell

Mark Warburton takes his QPR side to Oakwell off the back of a notable victory at Birmingham City and looking to extend their unbeaten league sequence to four matches.

Speaking to www.qpr.co.uk after their 2-0 success at St Andrew’s, the R’s chief enthused: “This is a tough venue – you look at their record at home, they’re formidable.

“It’s a great result against a strong team so to come here and perform like that, all credit to the players.”

Grant Hall and Bright Osayi-Samuel were on target for the west Londoners in the Second City – the latter netting a sensational solo goal – “He showed superb composure and I am delighted for him,” Warburton added.

“He has worked really hard. He has been patient to get in but he got his chance and he’s really taken it.”

Brentford v Fulham – Griffin Park

Brentford and Fulham meet for the last time in the league at Griffin Park for what is sure to be a mouthwatering derby occasion.

The Bees – currently just outside the play-off places – saw off Cardiff City during the week. Bryan Mbeumo and Ollie Watkins securing a 2-1 success. Brentford had to endure a nervy finale, but boss Thomas Frank was satisfied with his sides defensive efforts: “We conceded from a free-kick and they threw a lot at us at the end. 

“But I must praise the boys for that desire to defend with bodies and minds which we’ve really drilled into the boys.”

Third-placed Fulham lost ground on the top two following a frustrating 2-1 defeat at Preston North End on Tuesday evening: “I am disappointed we have not been able to get a result out of the game, but I am disappointed with our performance as well,” Cottagers boss, Scott Parker, bemoaned.

Derby County v Millwall – Pride Park

Millwall head to Pride Park looking to extend their unbeaten league sequence to seven matches after goals from Jed Wallace and Jake Cooper secured a notable 2-1 victory at Bristol City on Tuesday evening.

This result lifted the Lions within four points of the play-off places and delighted boss, Gary Rowett. 

“I thought we were outstanding, against a side like Bristol City with the home record they have and their position in the League table,” the Millwall boss told www.millwallfc.co.uk.

“I have to say that in the first half we opened them up countless times and it was a bit like the Forest game where we couldn’t believe we were only one up at the time. 

“They had good control of possession at times, but the way we set up meant we didn’t mind that. The higher they get, the more opportunities we get on those transitions, which we worked really well.”

Sky Bet League One

AFC Wimbledon v Doncaster Rovers – Kingsmeadow

Glyn Hodges was left with mixed feeling after his injury-hit side were held to a 2-2 draw at Bolton Wanderers last time out.

Marcus Forss had twice given the Dons the lead. However, Daryl Murphy, then a Joe Dodoo strike almost five minutes into stoppage-time denied the South Londoners back-to-back Sky Bet League One victories.

“I’m looking on that pitch at how many players have been in situations like this. It’s a very young squad and it’s a learning curve,” Hodges told www.afcwimbledon.co.uk. 

“I said to the boys ‘don’t worry, it’s a great point’. Three points and back to back wins would have been fantastic, but as long as we learn and ensure it doesn’t happen again, that’s the main thing. 

“It’s a massive learning curve and it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but I’m proud of the players.”

Hodges is still without a number of players for the visit of Doncaster. Anthony Wordsworth remains absent, along with Will Nightingale, Kwesi Appiah and Michael Folivi. However, Rod McDonald and Adam Roscrow are in contention after making the bench at Bolton.

Sky Bet League Two

Leyton Orient v Bradford City – Breyer Group Stadium

Leyton Orient will be looking to end a seven-match winless league sequence when promotion-chasing Bradford City are the visitors to the Breyer Group Stadium.

Interim O’s boss, Ross Embleton, was fully aware of the challenge his side faced but insisted it was a situation Orient should fully embrace.

“It is a game that we have to and will be puffing our chests out and we’re excited to go out and try and get the points,” he told www.leytonorient.com.

“Some people will be intimidated by the scale of the Club that are coming and they’ll probably bring a number of fans to come up against us. We have got to embrace that challenge.”

Embleton added: “We have performed well on the whole against most of the teams at the top end of the league, despite not always getting the results that those performances have warranted.”

The Bantams arrive in the capital sitting in sixth place, just one point off the automatic promotion places.

Sunday, December 15

Premier League

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur – Molineux

Tottenham head to Molineux and will face a Wolves side which has compiled an eleven-match unbeaten Premier League run.

Despite a midweek UEFA Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich, Spurs gave their supporters a taste of what they are truly capable of by thrashing Burnley by five unanswered goals in their last Premier League outing.

Having rung the changes in Germany, Jose Mourinho will field a more familiar line-up against the Black Country side, although impressive performance from Ryan Sessegnon could give the manager food for thought.

Sessegnon provided Tottenham’s goal with a crisp right-footed strike. Speaking about his display, Mourinho enthused: “That’s his quality, that’s the quality we know he has. He arrives always in dangerous positions. He is a good finisher.”

Arsenal v Manchester City – The Emirates Stadium

Arsenal face treble-winning Manchester City in an altogether more buoyant mood having ended a nine-match winless sequence – the Gunners worst run since 1977.

Second-half goals from Gabriel Martinelli, Nicholas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw the North Londoners come from behind to beat West Ham at the London Stadium, much to the relief of 

interim boss, Freddie Ljungberg: “We saw West Ham getting a bit tired around the sixtieth minute and we sliced them open,” the Swede enthused.

“We played some really good football in my opinion, that’s how we want to play.

“Of course, we won’t get carried away. We have a lot of work to do on things but all credit to the players for that they did.”

The mood around the camp was buoyed further by Europa League progress on Thursday evening – the Gunners recovered a two-goal deficit at Standard Liege – Bukayo Saka and Alexander Lacazette the men on target.

Arsenal have several injury issues to contend with ahead of City’s visit. Hector Bellerin pulled up with a tight hamstring in the warm-up at the London Stadium with a tight hamstring. Meanwhile, Kiernan Tierney was forced off during the opening period with a shoulder problem. 

Granit Xhaka is also being assessed. The Swiss international was concussed during the latter stages of the same game.

Monday, December 16 

Premier League

Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion – Selhurst Park

Palace resumes their fierce rivalry with Brighton off the back of three Premier League clean sheets and holding a three-point advantage over the Seagulls.

Palace followed victories over Burnley and AFC Bournemouth with a goalless draw at Watford. Defender Gary Cahill, returned to the Eagles line-up for the Hornets encounter and the former Chelsea man was hugely satisfied with is sides progress.

“That’s seven points in three games and three clean sheets and that’s something to be proud of,” he told www.cpfc.co.uk.

“As a whole collective unit, we are working for each other and we are reaping the rewards. It has been a strange three games, so many different circumstances at the back with different change from having everyone fit and available to having changes left, right and centre. We’ve adapted well which is great.”

This fixture hasn’t been particularly kind to Palace in recent seasons. The South Londoners winning just one of the last five, while last season Brighton completed a double over Roy Hodgson’s men.

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]